Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Chilly Side

Waves on the Gulf
Result of last night's cold front.
It's a bit cooler today.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kicking Back

Today's Lunch - Fish & Chips
We're taking some time for a little R&R.  We will return to our regularly scheduled programming next week.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pennsylvania Part 2: Ephrata

Yay!  We finally made it to Ephrata.  My best friend, Ashley, and her family moved here last Spring.  Having had some time to adjust, they have decided that they love the area.  The schools, parks, shopping and the library are close to their house.

Ephrata Borough, Lancaster Co., PA

As you can see, it is a quaint town that make you feel like you have stepped back in time, and when you see the horses and buggies of the Amish you may think you have.  This was taken at the local Walmart.  

Horse and Buggy parking only!

This year was exceptionally hot with days of triple digit heat indexes.  Like many areas in the northern part of the country, very few homes have central air.  But winter is coming, and the boys are looking forward to the snow.  They have already located a good hill for sledding/snow boarding.

Main Street in Ephrata

There is a nice park just blocks away from Ashley's house with a large picnic shelter, playground, a walking path along the creek, and plenty of benches to sit and watch the kids play or just relax with nature.

A park within walking distance

When you have kids, knowing where all the parks and playgrounds are becomes important.  This park has a ball field, playground, and walking paths, one of which leads to this pretty lake.  It was late afternoon, and the sun was playing off the trees and their reflections in the water.

Just a few miles down the road from Ephrata is another small town called Lititz.  It was a nice day to stroll up and down Main Street and visit the Wilbur Chocolate Company.  From the moment you step inside your senses are assaulted with the fragrance of chocolate.  They sell a huge variety of chocolaty treats, which are made upstairs above the shop.

There is a natural spring in Lititz Springs Park.  It flows into a pool and then down a shallow "stream" with stacked rock walls on either side.  It is filled with ducks, coming and going.  It looks like a lazy river ride - ducks just walk over to the edge and plop in.

A lazy river for ducks!
Here is a short video of the ducks swimming up and/or downstream.

This is a natural spring and the water is quite cold, and very clear.  When I looked into the spring where the water was still, I actually couldn't tell there was water there.

This tells more about the history of the spring and the park.

Here is the lion guarding the spring.  I believe the original lion was carved into the rock below, but has worn away over time.

After walking through the park, and sampling chocolates at Wilbur's we enjoyed some great pizza at a Roma Pizza on Main Street.

On another day, we visited Ephrata's Green Dragon.  The Green Dragon is a farmer's market and flea market all rolled into one.  There are many vendors including the Amish.  You can find just about anything there from fresh baked goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses to clothing, sunglasses, household goods and too much more to list.  People come from miles around to shop here, and it only operates on Fridays.

Image Source:  The Green Dragon website

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cheesesteaks, Swans and More!

Getting There.

Into every vacation a little rain must fall, right?  So there we were motoring up the interstate just as happy as if we had good sense.  Uh oh, looks like some bad weather ahead.  It had been an overcast day so some rain wasn't unexpected, but nevertheless not appreciated - as least not by the passenger - ME!

At 12:06 it looked like this
At 12:09 it looked like this.
"So, can YOU see anything?" 

And yes, the wipers were running!

The Sights and Tastes of Philadelphia.  

The historical city of Philadelphia was home to Ben Franklin (there is even a bridge named after him) and the Liberty Bell.  The Liberty Bell has a new home in the new Liberty Bell Center.  Admission is free to see the bell.

What else is Philadelphia famous for?  That's right!  The Philly Cheesesteak sandwich.  If you want a great, authentic Philly Cheesesteak, then check out Jim's.  There was a line out the door and around the corner.  It seemed like a long line but it was a small shop so how bad could it be?  However, what we didn't know was that the line snaked up and back inside the shop to where you place your order. 

Yes, it was worth the wait!
We stayed two nights at the Hyatt Regency along the Delaware River.  (Don't you just love Priceline?)  We got a great room and the hotel staff were friendly and helpful.  Wouldn't you know on my first ever day in Philly, I came down with an raging, down-for-the-count headache.  Even after dragging into the restaurant at 9:30, we weren't rushed and cheerfully served a tasty dinner.

If you want to see the Delaware like George Washington, for the small price of around $10 an hour you can take one of these cute swan paddle boats on a tour along the river. At night you can sit along the river and gaze at the many lights on the water.

Swans on the Delaware?

On our last night in the city, we sat by the river trying to decide where to have dinner.  Like with any big city, there are an overwhelming number of culinary choices.  Eventually we asked the concierge where to go (you know there's always someone willing to tell you).  

Some of the places we had considered were on his extensive list of "good" places.  The Chart House topped his list of seafood offerings, so we said "let's do it".  The concierge made the reservation for us, got us the best table and experienced servers.  We were treated like royalty plus we got a free dessert.  Now with that dessert we ordered dessert wine, which was more than the dessert and sodas would have cost.  The evening was concluded with a nice walk back along the river to the hotel.

Here is the view from our corner table.

The Chart House overlooking the Delaware River

The Last Day.

It was quite the morning, beginning with a thunderstorm and pouring rain (ending any chance of going to the zoo) and culminating in me setting off the car alarm by trying to get out of the car. We fended off our starvation at the South Street Diner with a couple orders of pancakes. 

This lovely lady was standing guard outside of one the shops as we made our way back to the car after breakfast. 

Philadelphia Street Art

Since we were unable to go to the zoo because of the morning thundershower, we checked out the Independence Seaport Museum.  It was chock full of exhibits, both visual and interactive.  There were replicas of many historic boats and ships, and so much more.  In addition to the exhibits, there is an active workshop in which skilled workmen, as well as volunteers, build and/or rebuild ships in the old styles.

The workshop at the Independence Seaport Museum

On the way out of the city, we saw one of Philadelphia's cable cars.  While it is a common sight here, it is interesting to us because the only trolleys we have are just buses in disguise.

And that concludes our tour of Philadelphia, PA.  I hope you enjoyed yourselves, and please recommend us to your friends.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Sights of Minnesota

OK, so we're here in the state of 10,000 lakes.  They're everywhere!  There's practically a lake on every corner in the state.  Why, then, cannot we not find a lake?  Because Minnesota is a big state.  The corners are farther apart.

There was supposedly one at Como Park where we went to the zoo.  Didn't see it. 

We did see the mighty Mississippi River as she flowed powerfully 
through the city.

Then there were tall buildings in the city of Minneapolis.  All lovely and interesting, but I want to see lakes!

A trip to Minneapolis isn't complete without a visit to the Mall of America, complete with it's own amusement park.  Again, no lakes.

Finally, on our way to Stillwater, we stumbled across Lake Elmo Park Reserve.  Here is a man fishing with his son, who just caught his very first fish.

Here is an satellite view of the pier, courtesy of Google Maps.

At first glance this appears to be another lake.  It is actually a swimming pool.  It is filled with chlorinated water and filtered just like a regular pool, but has the look and feel of a lake with a beach.

It was cool and overcast, but there were still folks in the, that is!

It looks like I was looking through a window doesn't it?  Well I was, sort of.  This was a tiny building at the end of boardwalk through a marsh-like area leading to another lake in the park.  Tall grass on either side was nearly as tall as me.  I think this was built as a shelter to observe wildlife. I love getting back to nature, although we didn't see much wildlife.

Except for this little guy!

So while I did get to see some of Minnesota's beautiful lakes, it was only a drop in the bucket.  There are about 9,998 to go.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Day at the Zoo

Who needs breakfast?  That would be me.  Sure that we would find breakfast somewhere along the way, we headed out to zoo and our meeting with Jen, who writes the humor blog, Redhead Ranting.  Unlike where we live, there was not a McDonalds or BoJangles on every corner.  What to do?  We drive and drive...growl.  I can't go to the zoo on an empty stomach.

Just when we were about to give up and just eat whatever we could find at the zoo, we stumbled onto a nice little bagel shop in a shopping center.  A cinnamon raisin bagel toasted with butter, please! just hit the spot.

Now we backtrack to the fairgrounds where we could pick up a shuttle to the zoo.  There is on-site parking, but we had read that is highly recommended to take the shuttle.  They run some wildly decorated buses that leave no doubt as to their destination.  This one is giraffe spotted; the other is a zebra.

They had a posted schedule, and it appeared it would be another half hour, and we barely had time to make our meeting with Jen.  I called to let her know we'd be late, and she offered to pick us up.  About that time another bus pulled in - so much for their schedule.  

It was a short ride to the zoo, even though the bus felt like it had a square tire.

We hung out for a few minutes while Jen and her daughter caught up with us.  Like I said, parking is available, but getting a space isn't always easy.

I gave her a call to tell here where we were waiting, saying I would be the gal wearing a blue top with penguins on it, next to a guy in a blue Hawaiian shirt - what a pair!

Yay, the long-awaited meeting.  Jen is a warm, down to earth lady, who was in "mama mode" that day.  She had her lovely daughter with her, who added an interesting perspective on our activities.  We had a great time looking at the animals and reptiles and watching Sparky the sea lion perform for a packed arena.  It was a picture perfect day, but it began to get hot in the bright sunshine.  
It's lunch time.  There was a decent snack bar with a good selection of the typical zoo foods, burgers, hot dogs, pop corn, nachos and of course, ice cream.  We enjoyed lunch where we talked blogging, compared notes about the differences in our weather, and shared pet stories - hubby and I are never lacking for weird pet stories.

You can only ask so much of an 8-year old, so they left after our visit to the Como Town amusement park.

Afterward, hubby and I walked through the many rooms of the conservatory, a building filled with all sorts of unusual plant life.  This room was filled with ferns of all kinds, including the largest fiddlehead I've ever seen.

It was a lot of fun to meet fellow blogger, Jen, face to face, and enjoy some beautiful Minnesota weather.  There was so much more to see but, alas, not enough time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Breakfast at the Wienery

It's not just for Hot Dogs!

You don't judge a book by its cover so don't judge a restaurant by its exterior, or even its interior.  We were hungry and not interested in having to track down breakfast, so we asked at the front desk of our hotel if there was any breakfast within walking distance.  The desk clerk said there wasn't much in the way of breakfast, but that The Wienery did serve breakfast.  We had walked by it the night before and hadn't given it much thought.  Now it seemed like our only option if we had any hope of getting breakfast before lunch time.

414 Cedar Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN

Here's a look at the inside.  It is simply laid out, bordering on worn out.  But don't judge it before you sit down and enjoy a unique breakfast experience. 

The Wienery has changed hands several times since it opened in the early 1980s, and is now owned by Pat Starr.  The Wienery was voted the city's best hot dog for 3 consecutive years. 

This morning, however, we wanted breakfast and we wanted it fast (at least I did).  We studied the menu for something that would be filling and on the table quickly.  We chose the #6 Wienie MacMuffin, an egg and cheese sandwich on an English Muffin with your choice of meat.  Of course I chose bacon!

Now all these items are prepared fresh to order while you wait.  It is pretty much a one-man show, and he had to make a quick trip to his car across the street for the groceries.

Was it good?  You bet.  It was like walking into a friend's house and having them whip up breakfast for you right on the spot.

And...he has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

This place gets two thumbs up from me, so if you find yourself in the Minneapolis area, I highly recommend checking out The Wienery.  Click here if you can't see the video.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wine Tasting in Charlottesville, VA

Last weekend was filled with fun, friendship, and wine tasting.  It was a nice, albeit cold, weekend in Charlottesville, VA where our group of 13 tasted our way through some really good Virginia wines.  Please join us on our journey.

We kicked off the weekend on Friday night with dinner at the Aberdeen Barn.  The food and service were excellent, and it was conveniently located near our hotel.  We were all given consecutive rooms on the same floor so our enthusiasm wouldn't disturb the other guests.  After dinner we commandeered the breakfast room to meet and discuss our plans for Saturday.  The wine and conversation flowed freely around the tables we had pushed together, and we nailed down the wineries we wanted to visit.  This was our first visit to the area, so we were fine with whatever was decided upon.

We met in the parking lot after breakfast the next morning and sorted out riding arrangements.  It was cold but sunny, and a good day to be out and about.

The first stop of the day was First Colony Winery.  The tasting room was in a beautiful setting with gorgeous trees in full bloom, and daffodils and grape hyacinth dotting the walkway.  We tasted an array of wines including an interesting Tannat which is seldom used as a stand alone, and petted the resident cat as he dozed in his chair in the sun.  We walked out of there with several bottles of their more interesting varieties.

Next it was on to Blenheim Vineyard & Winery.  They were having an event in the tasting room, so our tasting took place outside.  Yes, it was cold, but we did have a gas heater to warm our hands and/or glasses of wine.  Blenheim  has a lovely selection of wines, and we enjoyed them all thoroughly.  We picked up a couple of our favorites whites, Chardonnay and Painted White.

By this time we were beginning to feel the need for lunch, and there was a small deli just a few miles down the road.  The sandwiches were yummy, but I think we overwhelmed them, so lunch took a little longer than anticipated, and to stay on schedule, it was decided to forgo the next winery.

We soon arrived at the much-anticipated White Hall Vineyards, and it was everything it had been described to be and more.  There was a crowd around the tasting bar where the pourers were holding court.  The guy who was pouring for us was an absolute hoot, and had us all laughing.  We tasted a lot of excellent wines and made more purchases.  One of the group favorites was Edichi, a sweet dessert wine with flavors of plum, walnut, and raspberry with a rum raisin finish.

Just when you think it can't get any better, we made our way to Veritas Winery & Vineyard just before they closed.  This was our first seated tasting, and we were divided between two tables.  We tasted six wines, which were all excellent, and guess what?  Yep, we bought more wine.  My favorite here was a sparkling wine called Scintilla, made from Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay grapes.

That brought an end to our tasting adventures, and we headed back to the hotel to regroup for dinner.

Sunday morning we awoke to an inch of fresh snow, and thus there was a snowball fight in the parking lot as we loaded the cars.

It was a wonderful weekend.  We ate, we drank, we bonded in ways that simply meeting for a couple hours once a month can't accomplish.  I am looking forward to more such getaways.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sunset and a Pizza

Last month I posted about our wonderful get away to Florida.  Here is another little trip down our vacation memory lane. 

One of the great things about our condo and it's location is that it was right across the street from John's Pass.  This is a hub-bub of activity with many great restaurants and shops, not to mention cruise boats, and other water sport rentals.  John's Pass has had several face lifts over the years we've been going to Madeira, but one thing remains the same.  That is DeLosa's Pizza!  They say it's the pizza that made John's Pass famous.

They have an extensive menu, but our favorite is, of course, their pizza.  You can get it by the slice, a whole pie, eat in, take out, whatever you like.  Since we were within walking distance, we got one to go, and enjoyed what would be our most beautiful dining experience.

The sunset that night was absolutely spectacular!  It was the perfect accompaniment for our pizza.  The colors were so brilliant that it almost looked like lava flowing down from the sky to sizzle in the cool water.  These pictures were taken from our balcony.


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